Fear is most definitely a powerful motivator. It can cause you to run for your life from a hate crime in progress or keep you rooted and stuck, too afraid to move. The way we respond to fear is grounded in our physiology. We all have one deep instinct, to survive. That instinct can keep you from experiencing so much of what life has to offer. How does one overcome fear? How can we harness its power and use it to become stronger and a better version of ourselves?
The truth is there is no easy way to overcome your fears. I am categorically not a therapist or expert in psychology. I can say this, as someone who deals with anxiety herself, there are a few tried and true ways to cope with fear and anxiety in any given situation. The first is to find a way to calm down. Does that mean breathing deeply, closing your eyes and imagining a happy place, or diverting your attention to something completely non emotional? I can’t answer that question for you. You need to find what works best for you. Try to not borrow any trouble that doesn’t exist. That means ending that imaginary argument you like to have after the fact while in the shower. Instead, focus on what you are doing in that moment. Staying in the moment is immensely helpful. How does that translate to travel? I am so glad that you asked me that!
When you travel there are a great many things that can and do sometimes go wrong. To anticipate each of them would make even the best of us worked up and unwilling to step foot out of our door. While it does pay to plan for some things such as the logistics of getting from Point A to Point B. It does no good to worry about what will happen if there is a hypothetical hijacking that occurs between Point A and Point B. The odds of this happening are slim, and there is truly no way to actually prepare for such a thing. Don’t borrow hypothetical trouble that has not happened. Have faith that as things pop up, you will handle them. Believe in your ability to do so.
To gain control of your fear, accept that there are going to be unknown variables you will encounter. Learn and practice daily how to remain calm and to think in the moment. For example, you find yourself stuck in Dublin and you can’t figure out where the LUAS is or the correct bus to get you back to where you need to be. You have no map, cell phone, or knowledge of the area. What do you do? Yes, this did happen! I took several deep breaths and stopped to think of a solution. You can’t think clearly when you panic. There was no reason to be afraid of the worst case scenario. I tried not to jump from step one to step fifteen. My good friend that I was traveling with asked me, “How do you look like you know what you are doing even when I know you don’t?” It has taken traveling around the world from the time I was two hands old and raising a terminally ill child who shouldn’t see the look of true fear when the hard things happen. I have faith that I will solve the problem or find someone who will help me solve it. I hailed a taxi and we made it back to the B&B in time to laugh about it and appreciate we just did another thing we never thought we would do.
Let fear be your motivator. My first trip traveling without my husband and three of our four children in tow was terrifying! What if I got lost? What if number one was too tired to get out of the van when I needed to use the restroom? What if? What if? What if? You know what happened? I figured it out. I found the freedom to make all the decisions a bit daunting at first, but made it my mission to conquer that business. I let it empower me! Nope, I am not going to eat at the overcrowded Magic Kingdom. I hereby declare we shall be eating at Epcot! While having anxiety from time to time is normal, there is honest to goodness anxiety that requires the care of a medical provider. I’m not talking about that kind of anxiety here.
Where travel is concerned the fears are typically of the unknown. What happens if I get lost? What happens if I hate the food? What happens if I don’t understand someone or inadvertently offend them? What if I get sick while I am there? These are all concerns that warrant a minute or two of your time to consider. Ok. If you get lost, you will ask for directions. If you hate the food, every country serves rice or a carbohydrate that you can tolerate. You will find a grocery store and find something to eat. Call your insurance and ask them about coverage while abroad. Take a look at where you are going and find the local medical providers. Whew! Now that you have that handled, you can get going!